Dragons fall in final seconds of home opener

Running back Austin Stone runs into defenders in the Dragons home opener against SMSU Saturday. The Dragons fell 27-20 to the Mustangs when SMSU had the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.

Running back Austin Stone runs into defenders in the Dragons home opener against SMSU Saturday. The Dragons fell 27-20 to the Mustangs when SMSU had the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.

The MSUM football fans were left stunned and damp when the Dragons fell 27-20 in a heartbreaker to Southwest Minnesota State University in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference action Saturday.

The Mustangs’ quarterback, Charlie Kern, slung a risky 23-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Dean with a tie score and three seconds left of the game.

“It’s easy to look at the last play, but there’s a lot of other plays throughout the course of the game that, had we made some different plays, we would have ended up in better shape than we ended up being in,” head coach Steve Laqua said.

The Dragons had a 20-12 lead early in the rainy fourth quarter, capping a four-play momentum building drive with a quarterback sneak Jake Hodge touchdown.

However, MSUM could not maintain that momentum two drives later when they turned the ball over, ultimately leading to an explosive Tyler Tonderum rushing touchdown.

“There’s plays throughout the course of the game that all matter,” Laqua said. “We didn’t capitalize on that window of opportunity to put the game away and make it two scores. At that point in the game, in these conditions, that would have been the end.”

Tonderum rushed for 13 of his 340 yards on the tying touchdown run.  His numbers broke SMSU’s previous school record for rushing yards by an individual during a single game.

“If we would have (stopped Tonderum), it definitely could have been a chance to be sealing the deal,” said junior running back Brandon Schell. “To realize that it’s either now or never, and this is what we need to do to make it happen is something we need to work on.”

Schell ran for 130 yards receiving handoffs from the recently named starting quarterback, Hodge.

The sophomore read-option quarterback threw for 59 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns.

Aaron Bohl’s 15 tackles led the Dragon’s defensive effort.

“From last week to this week, or even last year to this year, we are 100 percent better,” Schell said. “Our execution is up a considerable amount and, even when times are getting tough, we can still grind it out and rely on each other. We can always count on each other to be there.”

The Dragons look ahead to next Saturday when they travel on the road to take on Winona State in attempt to better their 0-2 overall, 0-2 NSIC record.

BY MADALYN LASKE
Email

Leave a Reply